By Laura Amato
It simply wasn’t Monsignor McClancy’s night.
The Crusaders baseball team dropped a disappointing 14-1 showing to Monsignor Farrell in a losers’ bracket elimination game in the CHSAA Class AA tournament at Fordham University June 9. It’s the second straight year the Lions have ended McClancy’s season.
“We don’t make excuses, I don’t teach our kids to make excuses,” McClancy coach Nick Melito said. “It was a ball game and we came up short. That’s the way it is in the losers’ bracket.”
McClancy was exhausted even before the first pitch of the game. The Crusaders played a 12-inning marathon, notching a 2-1 victory over Xaverian the night before and, on June 7, played eight innings against top-seeded Kennedy Catholic. In the end, all those extra innings took their toll on the squad, making it difficult to find that extra boost of energy against Farrell.
“It’s hard because I think we came out a little flat,” junior shortstop Ryan Neuweiler said. “Off that win, we were just thinking, ‘Alright, we pulled that off, why not just do it again?’ We sat back on our heels a little too much.”
Despite the final outcome, the Crusaders did jump out to a one-run lead over Farrell in the first inning as Neuweiler drove in Quentin Holmes with an RBI single. McClancy, which connected on four straight hits to open up the postseason tilt, stranded two runners on base to end the stanza.
It was those missed opportunities that would eventually haunt the Crusaders.
Farrell responded in the top of the second inning, tying up the game when Vic Vitacco’s solo home run bounced off the foul pole in right field and sailed over the fence. The Lions offense seemed to hit its stride after that, racking up eight runs in the next two innings to effectively seize control of the game.
“We’ve been a little bit in the doldrums the last couple of games,” Farrell coach Bob Mulligan said. “That jolt that he hit really got everybody fired up and we just went off from there.”
McClancy also didn’t help its cause in the field.
The Crusaders recorded three errors in the first five innings, while a handful of wild pitches and passed balls allowed Farrell batters to reach base without even having to swing the bat.
Of course, the Lions managed to put bat on ball as well. Farrell racked up 13 hits in the victory.
“They were putting the ball into play where we weren’t,” Neuweiler said. “We couldn’t even make a play on it.”
McClancy simply could never get going on either side of the ball. After the first inning, the Crusaders connected on just two more hits.
It’s a difficult finish for the Crusaders, just one game shy of the championship game. Still, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic. McClancy will return the core of its lineup next season with a brand-new determination to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.
“They’ll be back,” Melito said. “The breaks go one way, the breaks go the other way, you never know. But overall, I’m very happy with my team.”